Don’t Blink

You would think with my vigilance about staying home I would have no problem keeping up with the smallest chores. I don’t have that much to do and what I do have to do is easy. So why did I not go look at the garden for two days?

We did have rain the last few days and that is all the more reason that I should have checked to see if anything needed to be picked. Today, between storms, I went out to get the mail and that is when it dawned on me that I had not harvested. I looked towards the garden and I could see a baseball bat sized zucchini peeking out from beneath the giant leaves. Shit.

I went and got my cutting shears and found many, too large, green bats. They are too big to cook into something healthy. These babies are pure bread making zucchini. At least this kind of harvest gives me a task to do tomorrow.

I think I need a check list of the boring and mundane jobs I am sick of doing just so I don’t zone out and forget to do one of them. There is no excuse for the orchids not getting watered every ten days, but when the days drag out ever so slowly and you have no reason to even know what day it is you can forget to water.

So I am going to try and keep my eyes open and not blink. If only there was something more stimulating than watching zucchini grow to do around here.

45 Doesn’t Offer You Cover

The current occupant of the White House is pushing an ever increasing racist agenda. He has never been shy about it from the start of his “birther” questioning, but as his poll numbers go down he is not trying to appeal to a broader base, but is doubling down to appeal to the racists among us. His strategy, not that I think he has strategy, is his choice. He will be judged in history for all his actions and those are not my immediate concern.

What is troubling to me is that people I know are openly displaying their own racism. I do not know if they feel emboldened by what 45 says. If they are strong supporters of his, like him, voted and will vote for him, then they feel it is OK to sound like him. To me, it is not OK.

As my previous Pastor, Haywood Holderness says, “God didn’t make no junk.” So in God’s eyes we are all good. Regardless if you were born with brown skin, yellow skin, white skin, love people of your same gender, are Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, atheist, Buddhist, Hindi, have one leg, are blind or deaf. No one chose how they came out. Holding yourself above another for the color of their skin is something they had no control over and is racist.

Very few people think of themselves as racist, or at least didn’t admit it, but now with 45 spewing hate more and more people are saying things that sound like him. I am noticing and so are others and it is disturbing.

Today a note was posted as a teaser for a news story on WRAL tonight about the Wakefield Neighborhood in Raleigh. The note was supposedly left at the home of a white woman who is married to an African American man. It is shocking how one neighbor has no trouble threatening another. You can read it here.

This open racism is not OK, but neither is the subtle racism, like saying, “all lives matter,” or “Bubba Watson should apologize.” Maybe you don’t realize how racist it makes you sound when you say things like that, because the guy you like in the White House says it.

If in your heart you aren’t racist then learn how not to sound like it. God has given you grace to grow and learn. If you are white, that was a privilege you were given by birth. Don’t act like it makes you better than anyone else. You didn’t have anything to do with it.

Safe On Home Base

If there is a thunder storm Shay needs to get to Home Base for safety. For the record, home base is my bed. It does not matter where she is when the storm starts she starts shaking and shivering. It does not matter than she is protected inside the house. It makes no difference if she is on the lowest floor, furthest from potential harm.

Shay shakes so badly until you bring her upstairs to be placed on my bed. Once there, despite the storm continuing outside, she stops shaking and shivering and is one happy puppy.

Shay won’t go there by herself. You must carry her to the home base for it to have such magical powers. I don’t have to stay there with her, but she is happier if I do. I too am happier at my home base. I wonder if I got it from Shay or if she got it from me? I guess our bed is Shay’s thunder bed. No shirt needed to help keep the anxiety away.

Crack for Squirrels

Out in front of our house today a squirrel ran from a tree in the middle of the yard to the magnolia grove. A few minutes later he ran back to the tree in the middle and got a friend. The two of them scurried over to the Magnolia. Then another joined them. Then one ran back to the middle of the yard and stood on its haunches and squealed. Soon another squirrel ran down the tree and they went over to the magnolia.

Russ looked out the window and said, “what do you think is going on outside with those squirrels.”

“They have discovered bacon,” I told him. “I poured some bacon grease in the dirt under the Magnolia.

I imagine the squirrels were saying, “Have you guys tried this dirt?” This is the best dirt ever.”

“Who knew dirt bound taste this good. We have been wasting out time gathering but when we just could be eating dirt.”

I looked at Russ and said, “I think I just threw off an entire ecosystem.”

Bacon can do that.

Non-Celebratory July 4th

Everything so far this year has been non-celebratory, so Independence Day is no different. I’ve had plenty of Fourths where I was out of the country and therefore had no celebrations. When I worked in the UK sometimes my friends there would ask me why we celebrated July 4th. It was always a little awkward to say, “It’s the day we declared Independence from you. So we are celebrating being free of England.”

I wonder if the British are going to add a celebration for the day they left the EU. Seems a little early for them to declare it was a good thing so maybe they should hold off on making it a bank holiday.

As a kid July fourth was a day at the riding club with fun swim activities, a picnic, men dressed in madras shorts and a square dance. It was a fun way to spend the day until all the old people drank too much and got inappropriate. I was the days of Mad Men.

Our little town had a parade in the morning and only once did I ever go to it because watching parades was not something my parents ever participated it. My one time was when I was a Girl Scout and our troop was in the parade. It was a little spooky because we had to gather at the big cemetery on the north side of town and march down Ridgefield Road into the village. I can’t remember if we did anything more that march. It was a small town parade with kids on bikes decorated with streamers and old men driving convertibles. Seems kind of lame now, but I was happy to actually witness the parade once.

The best Fourth of July parades I ever saw were at Pawley’s Island. People would actually make floats and decorate cars. We would sit in my cousin Mary’s driveway in beach chairs and the people in the parade would throw candy to us. Now that is a parade.

2020 is not a parade kind of year and certainly not one where anyone is throwing candy. There are no fireworks at the ball park or Boston Pops playing to fireworks on the Charles, except maybe in reruns.

I guess I am happy we are our own country and that deserves to be celebrated. Having Boris Johnson as a leader would be not improvement on our current disaster. What I really hope is that people can try and remember back to a time when we did what was right for our fellow Americans. If we all tried a little harder to do what is good for the collective rather than just ourselves we might go back to living in a country worth throwing a parade for.

Thanks Disney

Today is the one day chance to get to watch Hamilton on Disney+. Carter and I watched it this morning and now I am watching it again tonight. It has brought me great joy. So much that I forgot who was our President. I forgot about Covid ravaging the world. So this blog is very short so you can stop reading and quick buy Disney + right now and still have time to watch it. Disney thanks for taking my mind off everything! Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius.

Stupid Alert

It used to be that you couldn’t tell someone’s intelligence just by walking by them on the street. Sometimes you would look twice at the person standing next to a guy wearing an “I’m with stupid” t-shirt with an arrow pointing at them. Mostly that t-shirt says more about the wearer and not how bright the person is to have them as a friend. But just looking at a person, not hearing anything they say or witnessing anything they do, you have no idea what their IQ is.

Times have changed. Now there is a sure fire way you can tell a total idiot from six feet away. They are not wearing a mask inside the grocery store. Yesterday my cousin had an unfortunate encounter as she was going into a TJ Maxx in Raleigh, NC. Here in a North Carolina we have a statewide executive order from our Governor that mandates people wearing masks inside public places. It is the responsibility of the business to require customers to do so, which is tough, but not impossible.

Back to my cousin, these are her words of what she encountered.

I walking into a TJ Max (that’s probably the first mistake) wearing a mask. A young white couple were walking out without masks. The woman loudly and ragefully said while walking towards me and then past me, “Stupid f-ing woman, wearing a f-ing mask. What a f-ing stupid idiot!” I just walked past and shook it off but if you really stop to think about it, it will get to you. The excess of aggression and displaced rage on a total stranger because I’m wearing a piece of cloth over my face. A piece of cloth to stop more deaths, to prevent her from getting sick, and frankly, so my kids can go back to school before I go stark raving mad. God help us. Nothing but love, kindness and compassion needed at this time.

My cousin is kinder than I am. Not only was the woman just plain old trash to speak that way it clearly speaks to her lack of intelligence. Mask wearing is not political. It does not infringe on your rights. (I am really tired of that excuse.) You can breath and do normal activities while wearing it. Brilliant doctors can preform eight hours of complex surgery while standing up in a mask.

That rude and stupid woman who my cousin encountered might object to her doctor not wearing a mask while performing brain surgery on her, although I am not sure if there has ever been a successful brain transplant and that is what this woman needs.

So spread the word that not wearing a mask in public is a big flashing advertisement that you are a moron. Perhaps people would like to go back to being anonymously stupid at least if they are not standing next to someone wearing a t-shirt outing them.

As for the TJ Maxx that did not enforce the mask order, shame on you. Perhaps we need them to get a ticket everyday and then maybe they will do what Costco and Trader Joe’s does and politely ask people to put their masks on.

Everyone wants things to open back up and the only way that is going to happen fully is for there to be a vaccine and for people to take it. Until then, WEAR THE DAMN MASK, don’t be stupid.

Different Summer

Russ, Carter and I went to the mountains for a few days for what is probably our only vacation this year. We went to stay at an air B and B that we stayed at last year. It was the perfect social distancing get away. Except for one lunch on the way to the house we stayed away from all other people. Hiking on out of the way trails helped. The weather was not great so there were fewer people in the woods.

It was a lovely respite from Covid life. We did not watch TV or read the news. We did play games and sat by the fire and ate good meals. The only way it would have been better was if Shay were allowed to go with us.

This is the first summer in twenty years that I am not taking a road trip somewhere. Instead I am looking at this summer as the year I do all the chores. Usually I take summer off from chores because I am not at home. With no excuse I have to tackle the decades old list of things to fix, clean or get rid of.

Today I did something I have never done before. I mopped the garage floor. Not all of it, just the part around the washer and dryer and door way. It was rather satisfying. Not as good as a road trip, but better than cleaning out the attic.

I am happy to stay home and do my part to knock down the spread. The more we stay at home the less chance we have of getting sick or making others sick. I may not be spending money on gas to wander off and visit friends so instead I may have to buy a new mop. One for the garage and one for the house.

Zucchini Bread Pudding

And now a moment from summers past…figuring out what to do with all the zucchini coming in at once. I like zucchini. I like to grow zucchini. It’s easy and as an added bonus it appears to be the one thing the deer did not eat out of my garden. Due to stay at homing I planted som elf my garden early. I might have planted some of my zucchini too early. Then in a moment of panic I planted more a month later. The specimens planted last have had much more yield than the early plants. So the moral is don’t try and rush Mother Nature.

All that being said, I am now getting zucchini faster than I can keep up with. To top it off I don’t have an inch of space in my freezer so I need to cook it and eat it in real time. So tonight I made up a new recipe that was quite yummy, using a bit of leftover baguette and leftover caramelized onions. The dish was the perfect meal, no need for any meat.

2 zucchini about 6-8 inches. Quartered and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

Fresh thyme leaves- about 10 stems pulling the leaves off

10 inches of French bread cubes

3 eggs- beaten

1/3 cup of half and half

1/2 cup caramelized onion

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese

2 shakes of red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350°

In a non-Stick fry pan on medium high heat place the zucchini in a single layer and cook for five minutes Without stirring. Sprinkle black pepper over while cooking, but not salt. At the five minute mark stir, add the thyme and cook another five minutes or until the zucchini is browned. Turn the stove off and let zucchini cool.

While the zucchini is cooking mix together the eggs, half and half, red pepper flakes in a big bowl and add the bread. Stir around so that the bread can soak up the liquid. Add the onions and cheeses.

When the zucchini is cooled add it to the bread mixture and place in a greased shallow baking dish. You can do all this part in advance and just chill the unbaked dish if you want.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown if you do it right away add about ten Minutes to the cooking if you are cooking it cold from the fridge.

Enjoy this non-Covid moment as if were any previous summer.

Fire Patience

We wanted to have an outdoor fire tonight as a diversion. Carter volunteered to start the fire, but did not realize the wood was wet and did not have any kindling. So it took a while to get it going after recycling four paper grocery bags and still it was never a roaring fire.

I have obviously done a very bad job of teaching Carter good fire skills. Growing up my sisters and I were fire experts. We had three fire places, one big enough to stand in. As our house was so old and big and drafty we used the fireplaces for heat through much of the winter.

It helped that we had hundreds of acres of old growth forest who were constantly giving up their oldest inhabitants. My father and sister Janet were constantly cutting up the fallen trees and hauling them home with the tractor.

My job was to collect kindling whenever possible and we had our weekly town newspaper the Wilton Bulletin to start the whole fire off. Everyone in our house, including my mother could start a fire anytime.

Sadly these skills are not genetic, but a learned talent. So I have failed as a mother that Carter cannot start a fire without help. It only took two hours, but eventually we had a fire that was able to toast three marshmallows. So much for survival skills. Thank goodness the microwave was invented.

My Newest Obsession

During lock down I need all the non-caloric obsessions I can find. Games are at the top of the list. Sadly the people I am locked down with really don’t like playing games with me. I can tell when Carter has reached the peak of boredom when she offers to play a game with me.

I saw something on TV about a game that has become the most popular one sold and thought I should try it. It’s called “Ticket to Ride.” Like all successful games it has multiple versions. After reading the reviews I decided that the European version might be my best bet to get my family to play with me. Also, since it is built around creating train lines I thought I could lure Russ in as he loves trains.

When the amazon boxed arrived Carter opened it and started crying. Turns out she had played this game before and it made her cry. Oh Shit, so much for something we can do together I thought.

Well, by some miracle Carter and Russ decided to play with me. The game is not really about trains at all so Russ’ level of enthusiasm was as low as possible. I made the mistake of playing hard and by chance I won. I thought that would end the family play forever.

After retiring to bed I discovered an online version. Ah ha! Now I have played this game all day. To my surprise Russ and Carter offered to play the board version again tonight. I think I should hang back if I ever want them to play with me again. What do you think the chances are of that happening?

Lunch Out

Today Russ, Carter and I went out to lunch for the first time in three months. We have been safer at home, but we had something to do and so we had to eat out. We could have done a drive through and eaten in the car, which would have been an extension of staying at home. The idea of eating in the car was unappetizing to say the least. So we found a place that had a covered patio with tables spaced far apart.

We had to wait about ten minutes for one of the few tables, but the masked hostess had told us it would be 30 minutes so the wait seemed like nothing. Once we were seated a shy masked young man came to take our order. Without a mask he might have been audible, but with a mask his soft spokeness made him hard to understand.

We ordered with our masks on and when our drinks arrived we took them off. I felt very uncomfortable being in public without my mask. I put it back on before our food came. Carter and I both got Mahi tacos and I have to say they were delicious. Perhaps it was eating something I did not cook or the freshness of the fish and radishes that made me happy, but just for a minute.

As soon as I finished eating I used my hand sanitizer and put my mask back on. I went to take a sip of my tea and realized I couldn’t do it with my mask on so I skipped it.

Despite the good company and yummy food I didn’t have any euphoria about eating at a restaurant. Instead I was wary of the people around me, even though they were far from me and we were all outdoors.

My heart breaks for restaurant owners and workers. What used to be such a source of joy and fun is now just a scary place. As much as I would love to go to lunch with my friends I don’t think that I will until there is a vaccine. Thank goodness I can cook. I can’t imagine what a terrible year it would be to only eat at home with a bad cook.

Before our current situation Russ always said that food was better at our house than anyplace else he could go. Good thing because that seems like it is going to be where we will eat for the whole year.

Karma’s A Bitch

Two news stories about people not wearing masks made me so happy. Both stories involved people who were in places where wearing a mask indoors in public was required by law. The first one was about a non-mask wearing man in Texas at a Lowe’s. A cashier asked the customer if he had a mask. The law there requires all people to have them or the store could be fined a $1,000.

The man without a mask said no, he didn’t need to wear one. Then a mask wearing customer behind him attempted to give him a business card. The non-mask wearer hit the card out of the man’s hand. Turns out that man with the business card was a judge who upheld the law about mask wearing. The guy without the mask was then charged. Karma’s a bitch. You don’t know exactly who you are assaulting when you refuse to follow the law.

The second story was from California. A woman went into Starbucks and when the barista refused to serve her because she was not wearing a mask she took a photo of him before leaving the store. She then went on to post his photo, name and location of the Starbucks to say he wouldn’t serve her since she refused to wear a mask.

This kid is a hero! The author of this post deserves the blowback she got. And who calls the cops because they can’t get coffee?

Someone who saw her Facebook post started a go fund me page to tip the Starbucks Barista for protecting us all by following the law. So far $25,000 has been donated to him. Now the woman who wouldn’t wear the mask has been bullied by people and is getting death threats therefore she is demanding some of the go fund me money. F#$& that Bitch. So glad her attempted shaming blew back on her. Wear the damn mask.

People who don’t wear masks are putting us all at risk and keeping the virus spreading. This is not a freedom or rights issue, but a public health issue. It is not a red or blue issue. It is a human issue. Be human, follow the scientific based laws and rules. Don’t act like you know better (I am talking to you anti-Vaxers.) Call people out who are not wearing masks. They deserve to be ashamed. Maybe if they can’t go into any stores or get their coffee they will break down and wear masks.

Down The Rabbit Hole

There are some tasks that seem like they are going to be quick. They appear innocent until you get into them and suddenly you find yourself going down the rabbit hole. Pulling fibers from my stash for a needlepoint project is the perfect example of that.

I started this Christmas tree canvas two days ago. I had been putting it off due the the many colors, nine different greens and ten different brown and taupes, not to mention the other colors. As I already own most colors of the rainbow in needlepoint fibers I knew I just needed to go through my fiber boxes to pull the threads. My boxes are already organized by color so how hard could it be?

I thought I had pulled the needed colors until I got to stitching these taupe acorns. Are the bodies brown, green or yellow? Depended on the light. I realized I had not pulled the correct colors and went back to my fiber boxes to find exactly what I needed.

Despite my fibers being divided into color groups I realized that my skeins could use further grooming and organizing. So I took each group of 30-40 shades of each color and made sure the skeins were neat and even and sorted them from light to dark. This task is not as easy as it sounds. I had to divide the browns into three groups, True browns, reddish browns and greenish browns then from light to dark in each tone. Then blues into true blues and aqua blues. True pinks and coral pinks, and so on.

It took me two hours to organize everything and eventually settle on the three taupes I was missing for the Christmas tree. Only during “covidtine” is this an acceptable amount of time to spend doing something this unimportant. Of course now I am very happy with my organized fiber boxes. My only issue is I think I should have made a fiber index with a sample of each color and the name so I will know what I have. Oh Goody, a project for another day.

The Black Gloves Did Me In

The worst invention are black latex disposable Gloves. Maybe not the worst invention, but the worst choice to have to wear in the 90° sun on pavement. I was volunteering to pass out boxes of food at the Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel church with other members from my church. The job I signed up for was to direct traffic out of the parking lot, but my job got switched to directing traffic on the Intake side. I had to hand out some flyers to each car and thus needed to wear gloves.

But let me back up. The job started with my parking four blocks away because when I arrived at the church on Roxboro road the line of cars waiting to get boxes of food already was two hundred cars long 45 minutes in advance. I found a place on a side street and donned my mask and straw hat and walked to the church. Since I was early I packed some food boxes in the cool basement of the church.

Each box had a bag of apple, a bag of pears, six onions, four sweet potatoes, four yellow squash, some cucumbers, a cantaloupe, a box of black berries and a grocery bag of other food that included rice, beans, crackers and things I could not see since they were pre-bagged. The food had mostly come from the Food Bank, but the rice and beans had come from members of my church who had Re-bagged them into family sized servings.

Packing boxes with black gloves on was not an issue since the basement of the church is air conditioned. Once it was time to go direct traffic and hand out flyers I put on an orange safety vest over my white shirt and pants. The first hour was easy. I was paired with Alex Dunk who is a superior teenager. Sometime after the first hour mark I noticed my hands were roasting inside my black gloves. I had purposely worn lose fitting, all white to reflect the 2:00 in the afternoon heat.

The people coming through the drive up line were so thankful and nice. I wonder how long some of them had been sitting in their cars waiting for the distribution to start?

As the line of cars passed the two hundred and twenty mark I started to feel like I was going to be sick. My hands had heated up so much. I told Alex I was leaving the line and he handled the last of the cars. I had to go sit in the shade and I took off the black gloves and a quarter cup of water spilled out of each glove.

My pastor Alex brought me a cold bottle of water and I sipped it and talked to him while I recovered. As the last car looking for food came through the line I had recovered enough to walk the four blocks back to my car. I took off my mask and sanitized my hands. I think that if I had white gloves on I could have made my whole shift. Next time I volunteer to do this job I will bring my own gloves from home.

Non-Touch Tool

A few months ago, at the start of the pandemic, one of my only outings was to go to the post office to mail masks to far off friends. Every time I was frustrated by the demand of the postmaster that I pick up their community stylus attached to the touch screen pad to check off the box that said I was not mailing any liquid. I would just stand there in my mask and answer the question verbally refusing to touch the unwashed pen which had been touched by every other customer of the day. It made the post office people furious, but I stood my ground and told them I was answering the question, just not touching the pen.

I am not normally a Howie Mandel level germaphobe. As a baby, I let Carter touch everything in the hopes that she built up immunities starting as young as possible. But Covid is not something I thought I could make my own immunity to without possibly getting very sick.

So I stood my ground at touching things in public places and using a napkin, paper towel or my sleeve to open doors. When the weather was colder I almost always had a sweatshirt on, which I did not mind slipping the sleeve down over my hand to protect my skin. Now that it is hot I don’t usually have a long sleeve to turn into a mitten.

I read that copper and it’s alloys are more anti-microbial than other things so it was no surprise that people have made “touch keys” out of them. When I saw an offering for two-for-one deals on these tools I decided to order them for my family. The key can be attached to other keys or just kept in your purse. I tried using it on my iPhone and it worked like my finger. I was able to open doors that have push and pull handles, but not door knobs. It also works on push type keys like at an ATM.

Evidence about the spread of Covid is showing that it might come more from droplets from the mouth or nose of the person who has it and not as much from touching surfaces. My feeling is you never know if the person before you was picking their nose right before they pushed the keys on the Grocery store key pad. So why take chances on touching a surface someone else actually just touched.

I know I will this non-touch tool. Russ’ response was , “I don’t have a Key chain.” Meaning, “I am not going to use that dumb ass thing.” As long as he is working at home, locked away in the bunny rabbit room I am fine with his shunning. Carter has been working and has not seen hers yet. Since she is going back to Boston next month I am hoping she takes to it. Giving the tool is the only thing I am able to do these days. I have no sway over making anyone use them. I am just happy that now I don’t have to have a stand-off with the people in the post office.

Best Smelling Day of the Year

One of the benefits of spending all my time at home is that I tend to take stock of the little things. Read another way, I am so bored I study the minutiae. Also, since I am here everyday I am not away and missing some of the best parts about living in North Carolina.

Today as I was out front of my house I took a deep breath in and was washed over with gorgeous fragrance. The gardenias, lavender and Magnolia are all on bloom in a ten foot area. Alone I love each of these scents, but the overwhelming sensation of the three together brought instant happiness.

Smell is an under appreciated sense. The proof is that my mood was instantly lifted when I took in those floral smells out front. I wished that it was not so hot because I would have set up my work station right in the triangulation of these three flowers. It helps that the gardenias are so heavy with blooms. They don’t last long, but when they are in full force they can’t be ignored.

The lavender is more subtle. Usually I have to run my hands along the flowers to take in the fragrance, but there were so many bees drinking in the life of the buds they were releasing the sweetness into the air.

The magnolia is an exclamation point on the scent of southern summer. It was a glorious experience and I hope to enjoy it all week. If you are out walking just come on down my walkway and take a deep whiff as you get close to the front porch. It will change your day.

Father’s Day at the Farm

Russ being a superior father agreed to share his day with my father. So I made a flavor filled lunch of Chicken Satay, orzo salad and hummus and took it up to the farm. Covid has kept us away from the farm for the most part, but social distancing while eating and swimming seemed safe enough.

I was happy that one of my father’s girls could come and celebrate him on this day. He has been an extraordinary father. He always supported me in most of my crazy endeavors, like selling jaw breakers in third grade or selling cable television in college. Because of him I got a chance to work all over the world doing interesting things I never would have dreamed of just because he believed in me. There is nothing better for a daughter than a father who is you biggest cheerleader.

Thankfully the father I picked for my only child is also the best father ever. He challenges her, pushes her and is always in her corner. His being a great father makes my job easier as a mother. I am thankful for him as my parent teammate.

Evidence of the bond between Russ and Carter is that they both showed up this morning dressed in matching outfits without discussion. My father and I did not dress alike, but our bond is no less evident. The only good thing about Covid is that we were all together. This is something that may not happen again as Carter would normally be working somewhere else.

Father’s Day deserves to be at least father’s week. I am lucky to still have my father at 82 so I count these years as special. I am looking forward to decades more father’s days with Russ.

Garden Destruction

I’ve had a good season with my vegetable garden this year. Although bunnies ate all my green bean bushes, my squash, okra, cucumbers and peppers had faired well. I enjoyed watching as the little cucumbers grew to harvest size. I encouraged zucchini and picked hot peppers each day for Russ to eat for breakfast.

I took stock each day of what needed to be picked and what could benefit from another day on the vine. So this afternoon when I went out to get some cucumbers I was dismayed to not be able to find s few I had been monitoring. Then I looked further and saw that each of my pepper plants had been denuded, not just of the hot peppers, but also of the leaves. Zucchini were bitten off and okra plants were eaten to the ground.

It was heart breaking, but what I feared would happen without a deer fence. I took my chances, but as usual nature wins. I really have been fighting a fence because I don’t like the way they look right next to my driveway. I am not going to cry, but am hoping that the deer who ate all those peppers is having a hurt tummy. Deer are too dumb to learn what makes them sick, but smart enough to find easy garden targets.

I still have herbs and arugula and am just going to enjoy my zinnias. It all just goes along with the rest of 2020.

Don’t Threaten Your Fellow Americans

I am so tired of having our so called leader think of anyone who might disagree with him as a lowlife. I am tired of having the current occupant of the White House only care about people who fawn all over him and kiss his ass. Civil discourse is met with threats. This is unacceptable from anyone, but especially the leader.

I am tired of having a liar in Chief who does not know the term “servant leader.” I am tired of the worst example of humanity having such a huge bull horn to spew hate. One who ignores science and gathers people together just to stroke his ego, despite it being the worst thing people can do during a pandemic. I am tired of having someone in charge who knows no history and therefore repeats mistakes over and over again.

I knew 2020 was going to be a long and tiring year, just because it was an election year, but being trapped at home and having this person in charge is almost more than this human can bear. Fellow Americans don’t have to agree on everything, but I hope we agree that we all have the right to disagree and say so peacefully and not be threatened by someone who was merely elected, not anointed.

Such A Deal

I grew up in a house with a mother who loved a deal more than just about anything else. She also loved beautiful clothes, but no matter how fantastic something looked on her, and everything did, she didn’t love it if it wasn’t a bargain too.

I remember one Christmas my father went to Nora Zandre, the fanciest woman’s clothing store in New Canaan. He picked out four gorgeous outfits as presents for my mother. As the happy sales clerk wrote up the receipt my father asked her to write down that everything was 80% off. Of course right before Christmas back then everything was full price, but my father wanted my mother to think he got everything at a discount. So he strategically left the receipt in the bottom of the box and had the store wrap it all up.

I remember my mother opening those presents on Christmas morning and kvelling over the dresses. Then she found the receipt and you would have thought she had found an extra thousand dollars cash in the box. Thinking my father had gotten such a good deal made her love the dresses even more. My father just winked at me, which was code for “never tell.”

Today I got a deal that my mother would find particularly thrilling. As I have not really bought any clothes for a year a half I stopped looking at catalogs and emails advertising things. I don’t know what made me click on a Talbots email this morning, but I did. One of the first items I saw was a cute shirt marked down from $69.50 to $29.50. I thought I might get it. As I looked further into the email I found I had a $25 reward as well as 15% off for paying with my Talbots card. The way the discounts worked is the 15% came off the 29.50, which was like $4.73, then tax was added on the item, minus my $25.00 and as I was doing curbside pick up there was no shipping. In the end I paid $1.14 for this shirt.

Picking it up couldn’t have been easier too. I drove up, called the store and they walked the bag out to the back seat of my car. My mother will be thrilled to hear this story and this shirt will be her favorite item of clothing I own. It’s all about the deal.

Make of the Day

Still in quarantine…still looking to be productive, yet have fun… still in the sweat shop. Today’s make of the day is a request from Carter. She had an old sheet set that wore out, but she loved it. So she asked me to repurpose part of it into an old fashioned apron for her.

There is absolutely nothing easier to make than a 1950’s apron. I think it was the first thing we made in home-ec in seventh grade. Back then the most complicated thing we learned was how to thread the machine. I think my friend Wendy MacLea’s mother was our teacher for that class. She could do it all, sew, cook, bake. Now people have you tube for home-ec.

I hope this apron is exactly as Carter ordered it. If not, I’ll just make another. It’s something to do. I wish I remember more from metal shop and wood working class. Since it was the early seventies they made boys and girls go through all the same home-ec and shop classes. I could be using all this time home to make furniture and fireplace tools and maybe build a car, or at least a wagon. Considering I only made a cutting board and metal candle holder I don’t think I have a good skills foundation in those areas. Maybe I can make apron/lampshades.

The Need To Create

As the months of staying at home I have an ever increasing need to create useful, beautiful things. There is only so much organizing, cleaning and polishing I can do. So the desire to make art is the one thing that takes my mind off everything else going on around me.

So the last three days I made some place mats that coordinate with another set I made last year. It started as an attempt to learn to make the flying geese squares that are the colorful part of each placemat. It wasn’t much to learn, but doing it and doing it perfectly are two different things.

I also want to up my quilting skills, but doing it perfectly is a life’s work. Nothing about quilting is perfect, but I do like how these simple placemats turned out and I am happy to add them to my collection. Mostly it is a good way to spend my days so that I have something to show for this strange time.

My Father Was Right

When Russ and I first moved to Durham our house was half the size it is now. It was a perfect little three bedroom with a small square dining room. My father decided now that we finally had a dining room we needed a dining room table and chair set for 12 people. I a told him it was too big and he said we would need it eventually. We certainly did not have the room to use any leaves, let alone the three that the table came with and we had to scatter the 12 chairs about the house.

Eventually we decided to put an addition on our house which included doubling the size of the dining room to accommodate our table and chairs. It has been a joy to have such a big dining room table and big comfy chairs as we love having people come and sit around and enjoy a meal with us.

The last few months have been sad indeed as it is just three of us in the dining room. Russ and Carter have taken to eating breakfast in there sitting at one end staring at the painting my cousin Sarah did of my Grandmother and two of her five sisters. Russ and Carter call them “The supreme leaders”based on the scary looks on their faces.

Tonight was the first night we have invited anyone inside our house. We had our friends the Toms, who are really more like family than anything else. Since it was just the four of us we had no problem social distancing, with them sitting together at one end of the table and us sitting at the other 10 feet apart.

I was able to serve the plates in the kitchen and put them at each persons place before a calling them to dinner. Afterwards everyone came and placed their own plate in the dishwasher and the napkins were put in the laundry.

This never would have worked if we had a tiny little dining room and a small round table. That giant table my father insisted we have is the perfect way to enjoy our close friends but far apart.

Public Notice For Deer

Attention all Deer! You don’t like tomatoes. You think you do, but you don’t. Stop biting them and then discovering you hate them. Once you have bitten one you know you don’t like it, the next one you bite is going to be just as horrible. Heed my advice now and stop biting tomatoes.

I really hope the many deer that live at my house are reading this blog. We have never been good at growing tomatoes at our house. There is something in our soil that kills the plants. So I gave up trying years ago, until the stay at home order.

Right before the quarantine I purchased a large potted tomato plant that did not require replanting. We put it on the terrace so it was away from the tomato killing garden and the buffet loving wildlife. It flourished. We have harvested five beautiful red tomatoes, which are sweet and yummy. There are more green ones on the vine doing nicely.

This morning Russ brought up a handful of tomatoes that were lying next to the turned over plant. They had deer bite marks in them, but no bites out of them. Damn stupid deer. Now they are coming up the terrace stairs. So tonight russ surrounded the plant with chairs and then cover it with a towel in hopes the deer don’t get it. I don’t want to spray Deer Off on the terrace as it stinks so bad and we are really enjoying eating out there during this nice weather.

Just as I finally thought I had found a solution to my tomato black thumb, the deer do me in. UUUUUUGGGGHHH!

Mask Grammar

Wearing a Mask in public is not a red or blue issue. It is not about “freedom.” It is about smarts. Smarter people than me say we should wear masks. It protects me, and you and everyone else around us. As far as I can tell from listening to people who are not wearing masks is that they are just not that smart.

Who wants to be know as dumb? Don’t be a dummy and wear your mask.

I made a new mask for myself today that serves multiple educational purposes. It demonstrates the difference In “Wear” and “Where” as well as “Your” and “You’re.” I am less concerned with some of the non-mask wearing people’s grammar, but just putting the mask on so they may have a future and the opportunity to improve their grammar.

No one wants their obit to read, “Never a good student, too bad he was too dumb to listen to people more educated. If only he wore a mask.” Standing up for the right to be an idiot is going to kill you.

Dust Happens

The other day Carter did a deep dive redecorating of her room. She was tired of it the way it had always been and moved her bed to the only other wall it would fit on. While she was at it she took things off the wall and reorganized her belongings. When she was done she invited me in to see you work. It was wonderful, except for the dust she had uncovered. I asked her if she wanted the lambs wool duster.

Not only did she not recognize the duster when I brought it down, she did not know how to use it. Of course this lack of dusting instruction is completely my fault. Let’s not talk about where else dusting might not have taken place.

I thought about this lack of dust awareness and realize that I probably did not notice dust until I was well into my twenties. Felling the need to regularly dust probably started sometime in my thirties. Dusting between the housekeeper coming happened in my forties and now in my fifties I dust something everyday. I don’t like to look into the sunlight as it streams through the windows because all I see is dust floating in the air and wonder where it is going to settle.

Face it, Dust Happens. I figure we have all been staying home for the last three months. Some people took to cleaning their homes like an operation was going to have to be preformed in their dining room. Some just let things go. I have friends who never cleaned their own house, but now couldn’t have their house keeper come in. I have advised more than one person how to use their vacuum. I realized I probably should have given dusting lessons.

So if you are cleaning your own house I suspect that now is a good time to dust. It is really an easy job, if you know how. First, don’t bother with any product, like Endust. The best thing you can get is a lambs wool duster because the oils from the wool capture the dust. You can use a micro fiber cloth, but it’s not as good. You should always dust before doing any other cleaning and dust from top of a room to the bottom as dust falls down. Make sure you move things on table tops to get all the dust off and don’t forget places like framed art work and window mullions and sills.

After you have finished dusting, take your duster outside and bang it against something hard a few times and the dust will fall off. Seeing that dust outside your house and not in is a very satisfying thing. It might start you on being a regular duster, no matter how young you are.

Family Size Doubled

We are looking for good news around our house to keep our spirits up from the pandemic and George Floyd news. One thing we have been following daily for the last few weeks are the baby birds on our front porch.

We first noticed the tiny nest built behind the top of our porch light two weeks ago. I reported then that we had five eggs. We stopped using the front door so as not disturbed the mother. If anyone came up on the porch she would fly off leaving her eggs.

Not going on the porch meant that we didn’t monitor the progress closely trying to give the little family their privacy. After ten days I just had to know what was going on. Since the light is well above my head I have to bring out the step stool and hold my camera above the nest to see what is inside.

That day I got a photo that showed no eggs, just some little fluffy balls. The photo not good so I couldn’t tell how many babies there were.

Today I got another photo which shows at least three babies. I am not sure if there are more, but we are happy to have at least these three. Since the nest is built above our porch made of hard quarry tile I am worried about the mother pushing these little ones out of the nest. Russ and I discussed leaving a cushion on the porch, under the nest so if they fall the six feet to the ground their fall is not so bad.

We figure they will fly away in the next week. It is going to be sad for us to have them grow up and move away from home. I am looking for what good news we can follow when they are gone.

It’s the Law

As of Friday it will be the law in Durham County that everyone must wear a mask while in public. It is also the law in Orange County. Thank God! The evidence is high that in countries where people all wear masks in public the virus’ spread is curbed.

Cases are going up in red states, including in North Carolina, which I hope is really a purple state. In the very red county of Alamance, NC over 2,000 people gathered unmasked at the speedway to watch cars drive around in a circle. Really? You are willing to risk your lives for that? Well, you won’t be allowed to do a thing like that in Durham and I hope people understand it is for every bodies good.

If you can’t wear a mask, stay home. If you have to go out and think you can’t wear a mask don’t breathe, talk, sing, sneeze, or cough. In other words, wear your mask.

I am going to have to practice talking quietly because they say that even loud talking can spread the virus. I would fall in the super spreader category as my super power is being able to be heard without a PA in a large crowd. That’s good if you are an auctioneer, but bad when it comes to Covid-19.

No one loves wearing a mask, but just buck up and do it. The better everyone is at doing it, the faster we can get through this, and it’s not going to be fast so get used to it.

Jeopardy! as Escape

Today I heard that the TV show Jeopardy! is running out of pre-recorded new shows that they made before the shut down. Soon we are going to be back to watching reruns. Jeopardy! is a safe TV escape these days. It is rarely political, except in a historical context. It is some what educational, as I always learn new facts and it is fun.

Jeopardy! is my refuge from the news I have just watched. Nerds excelling and my trying to beat them to the right question is a way to ignore the ugly in the world.

These days the bad is all around us. I feel lucky that I have a way to escape as I am healthy, am not one of the forty million Americans who are unemployed and I have grown up with privilege just because of who I was born to. I don’t have to teach my child how to stay alive when out in public, as I assume she will be treated fairly. Discrimination is not part of our daily life.

I am lucky that I can use Jeopardy! as an escape because what I am escape it is really not that bad. We have food in the kitchen and don’t worry that it might run out. I do worry about Alex Trebeck’s health and his ability to last long enough to make more TV shows. But more than concern for one man who has had a good, long, successful life, I worry for all the children who are disadvantaged who need a level playing field to have a chance at any life. This worry is so overwhelming that I need a little Jeopardy! escapism. But like all the crap that 2020 has brought I won’t even have that soon.

Space Force Branding

The other day I watched the first episode of Steve Carell’s new a Netflix show, Space Force. It is good and the perfect vehicle for Carell’s comedy. It does a good job of poking fun at places I enjoy being needled these days.

Then today as I was driving behind a Jeep I noticed a “Space Force” bumper sticker. At first I thought, “That was fast, Steve Carell already has fans who are willing to out bumper stickers on their cars or his new show.” At closer glance I noticed in tiny letters on the bottom of the bumper sticker the word “Trump”

After getting home A news story came across my phone saying that Netflix had trademarked “Space Force” months ago, beating out the government to ownership of the name. So from the looks of it I think that Trump owes Steve Carell a royalty for every bumper sticker. If he hadn’t been so vain and put him name on them Steve would have more trouble knowing who to go after, but the vain-one-in-chief historically likes to put his name on everything. I am surprised he hasn’t changed the American flag to add his name somewhere.

The only thing about that bumper sticker I found odd was the tiny font of Trump. Someone at the bumper sticker maker is going to get in trouble for that mistake.

Love that smug look on Steve’s face, thinking about all the Trump Space Force Merch he is getting a cut on

Speak Truth to Power

My very favorite Hans Christian Andersen Fairy tale is The Emperor’s New Clothes. I am certain you know the story. If not, I’ll give you the synopsis.

Two weavers promise the emperor, a vain and silly man, a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. In actuality they are scamming the emperor and not making anything at all and just pretend to give the emperor new clothes. As they pretend to put these beautiful new clothes on the man they tell how great he looks in them.

The Emperor doesn’t see anything, but does not want to admit that for then it will prove he is an idiot. He goes out to parade his new suit of clothes amongst his subjects, no one dares say they don’t see any clothes and then be considered stupid. Finally a child speaks the truth and screams out, “He is not wearing anything at all.”

My favorite take away from this is that people need to trust their own eyes and speak up, for not doing so makes you look stupid. I am thankful this week for General James Mattis for playing the role of the child and screaming out that the emperor has no clothes. Then for John Kelly for saying Mattis is right.

We don’t have an emperor is this country and we can’t let our elected leaders act as if they are emperors. People need not be bullied into not speaking out on what they know is wrong, because they are afraid for seeming stupid or bringing down the ire from someone above them. Instead people need to speak out for fear of what not speaking out says about them and because it is the right thing to do.

Now is the time to say the emperor has no clothes. Trust your own intuition on right and wrong and do right. No one wants to be a sheep like the grown ups in the fairy tale. No one wants to be on the wrong side of history. General Mattis is opening the door for people to follow him and speak truth to power.

Maker Therapy

This week has been mentally exhausting. I needed a little therapy today to take my mind off this sad terrible week. As Carter volunteers at her stable on Saturdays I was able to get a big block of time in the sweat shop, which has reverted back to being her office since she is working from home.

I had a couple of Masks to make, which I am sick of making. There is little creativity in making the masks. I am happy to do them for people, but also wanted to have some fun.

I looked at my scrap material and decided I had enough to make a new tote bag. This is not an item I need as I have enough bags for a lifetime. It just was the act of producing something beautiful that I needed.

I was almost done with it and Carter arrived home. That is usually my signal to close up the sweat shop and get out of her space, but she obliged me the few more minutes I needed to finish up.

It felt good to be productive and not look at, read, watch or listen to any bad news.

I Could Have Worn Worse

Life in a Covid-land means not caring about what you are wearing. For the first couple of months, when it was cold and rainy I wore my navy yoga pants and one of three coordinating work out tops almost everyday. Then warm weather came and I have shifted to shorts. Equally unattractive as my yoga pants, but just as easy to step into every morning.

Why does it matter what I am wearing I am only seeing my family who are also wearing similar outfits? That is of course unless they have important Work Zooms, they they are wearing business shirts and Nike shorts. I am certain that you gentle readers are mostly wearing the same things too. You get a Covid-Uniform and stick with it.

Today when Carter encountered me in the kitchen she found me wearing a white shirt and white shorts, somewhat in the vain of what a British Croquette official might wear. She said, “Isn’t White for after Memorial Day?” I laughed and told her that Memorial Day was two weekends ago. Not that it matters, I am not following ANY antiquated fashion rules. No we are in Covid fashion anarchy.

I am hear to say proudly that despite my unattractive outfits I have worn a bra everyday during quarantine as well as changing out of my night gown everyday at least before ten in the morning. I consider this level of dressing a huge undertaking considering I could have just worn my nightgown for the last three months.

I Hate Disappointing People

Last year at this time I was teaching Mah Jongg at the Coral Bay Club on Atlantic Beach. The classes were sold out and had huge waiting lists which no one got off of, causing great consternation. I came back later in the summer and did it again, but the waiting list remained. So the club scheduled me a year in advance to come three times this summer for six different classes of two to three days each.

My first two classes were supposed to be in two weeks. Sadly Mah Jongg is not something that can be done in a social distancing way. Despite pleas for me still to come I had to cancel these classes and follow the governor’s rules for gathering.

Mah Jongg is the definition of non-essential. No one needs to be at risk to learn to play. Besides it won’t do anyone any good to learn and not get to play and practice right away.

No one is more sad than me. I love to go stay with my friend Reba and have a few days at the beach doing what I love most, sharing the game of Mah Jongg. I just can’t be responsible if someone gets sick by doing it right now.

My July classes are still on the calendar and we will reassess the situation then, but no one should plan their life around getting to come to Mah Jongg class. If you don’t learn this summer I will be back next summer. Just chill at home with a good book and good health.

Safe In The Car Too

I know I am safer at home. I am trying to do my part by staying home almost all the time, but today I did venture out. At last, in Durham, Hair salons were allowed to open two days ago. My darling hairdresser Suzanne called last week to give me an appointment to get my hair cut for this morning. You would have thought it was Christmas.

She owns the salon and I have been very worried about her business being closed for so long. Weeks ago when I was supposed to have a haircut I put my haircut money and tip in a ziplock bag. Then again last month on the date of my regular Appointment. So today when she was finally able to see me I gave her the bag of money for all my haircuts. It is important to me that she is able to stay in business.

I felt very safe getting my haircut with her. I waited in my car to be called in for my appointment. Everyone was required to wear a cloth mask the whole time. Only half the stylists can work at one time so there were very few people there. I had to answer some screening questions and have my temperature taken before I could continue. I had my hair washed and cut with my mask on and it wasn’t an issue.

Suzanne is working seven days a week from 8-2 so other stylists can come in on a shift 2-8. It is a lot of logistics to reschedule all of us who had already made our appointments for a whole year. I asked her how long she thought it would take her to catch up and she figured six weeks. Of course that was catch up with getting everyone’s hair done, not earning what she lost.

After the adventure of going out in the world for a haircut I came home and did some work and then Shay got very antsy. Having to supervise Russ on Zoom calls all day can get monotonous. As she was wiggling with me by the steps to the garage I asked her if she wanted to go in the car. She sprinted down the steps and bound out to the car. I could barley get the door open before she jumped in and assumed her position on the center console.

So Shay and I just drove around a bit. She looked out the window and smiled. Two teenage girls pulled up beside us and waved at Shay. She threw back her head toward them.

We know we are safer at home, but today it felt like we were also safe in our car. It was just nice to see a different part of the world, even if it was less than a mile from home.

We Need Hope

Hope is something I hold dearly. I was born an optimist and have honed those skills of ignoring the bad and elevating the good. There is a fine line between being a Pollyanna and just seeing the good more than the bad. This does not mean I stick my head in the sand when confronted with something unpleasant. I am more likely to call out the bad to challenge it.

This weekend Russ and I had the pleasure of meeting our friends M & S’s first baby boy A. There is nothing like having a baby in a Pandemic to take your mind off what is going on in the world. Although we certainly couldn’t get close to the darling boy, we were able to bring him a quilt and a casserole for his parents. There is nothing more hopeful than a new baby. Not to put any pressure on him, but he could grow up to be a great President or spiritual leader.

Tomorrow I am going to be a guest on My friend Carl Johnson’s Facebook Live show Optimistic Opportunities. I used to work with Carl at Durham Magazine and he is a highly optimistic person as he has spent his life in sales. I am not sure exactly sure what we will talk about, but neither of us have ever had trouble talking to each other.

Carter has recently had a huge dose of hope. She started a running campaign three days ago to help raise money for things connected to George Floyd and equal Justice. In three days she has raised over $1,300 and some big pledges based on how far she runs. This has bowled her over because the money has come $5 -$10 a time from poor college students and some bigger amounts from kind adults, some she hardly knows. It has been a big bag of hope to her that there is good in the world. I am thrilled that this is the lesson she is getting from this.

For now I am going to stay on the sunny side that all these protests will help improve our country. I am hopeful Covid-19 will teach us some lessons on how to be better humans and I am Optimistic that we will survive and thrive again.

Everyone Deserves Equal Justice

The police reaction on George Floyd trying to buy cigarettes with counterfeit money was to send four officers who eventually threw him to the ground and one large police officer kept a knee on his neck for eight minutes until he was dead. It was an over show of force for the crime, even if he didn’t die.

45 calling protests over George Floyd’s death “act of domestic terror” that may have him call in the military to stop them is an even bigger over reaction. Our military is to protect our country not fight our own citizens. 45’s lack of compassion, leadership and any heart whatsoever is making an already terrible situation so much worse. Gassing peaceful demonstrators is not the American way.

True leaders take responsibility when times get tough. We have someone who has shown no ability to say,”I hear you, I feel for you, I understand you, I hurt for you, I want to make it better.”

Not acknowledging bad things, except if they are being done to him is his modus operandi. That will never change. I am tired of narcissistic leaders. Please, please look for new leaders who have some kind of heart. Who understand that having teams of smart people with them is important, who make plans and contingency plans and contingencies for their contingencies, who understand that making things good for most is good for each individuals. If any are oppressed it is bad for all.

Of course looting and destruction of property is bad, but if no leaders sit down work with protestors things will never get worked out. All people deserve equal justice. I fear under 45 we will not have any dialogue and frustrations will just continue.

Carter Channels Her Frustration For Good

Watching what is happening in America is difficult for us all. I don’t have any answers besides voting when my adult child asks me how we can fix things. For a twenty something this is no where near enough action and for a fifty something I agree with her. I am frustrated too. I can only imagine that as white people of privilege if we feel frustrated that it is only one millionth of what African Americans are feeling. I can never put myself in their shoes, but I still have empathy and wants things to be better.

Late last night Carter posted something on Instagram that is her way of helping. She has decided to raise money for Black Lives Matter by running every weekday at 5:30. Running is not something anyone in our family is very good at. Carter started running last week just for her mental and physical health. As she felt that it was helping her she decided to use it as a platform to help others. You can watch her late night deceleration on Facebook at Carter Lange if you are friends with her.

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Orchid Children

I am the care taker of many orchids. I am not an orchidist, just a baby sitter. My collection of about thirty plants started about twenty years ago. Russ found that giving me an orchid from Family Garden was a fool proof gift. Turns out our sun room is an ideal spot for the plants with cold nights and hot days. The gift Russ would give each year last many many years with little or no care from me.

At most I splash a bit of water in each pot about once a week. I have never fertilized or repotted a single plant. Every once once in a while I throw a dead brown leaf away and only twice have I ever given up and thrown a whole plant away.

It amazes me how these plants thrive and produce so many gorgeous flowers for so long, year after year.

I liken raising orchids to raising children. They come out the way they are going to be. I can’t change them. I do a minimal amount to keep them alive and still they thrive. If I do to much I would smother them. Best to let them find their own way and then they flourish.

At some point they seem to be dormant and then suddenly they blossom with unexpected beauty. Their success brings joy for it is all their own. I am just a witness.

Just Slip Out

Being President can not be as much fun as 45 thought it was going to be. He can’t just say whatever he wants on a Twitter now no matter what kind of executive order he puts out. It’s not a royal order, just an executive order.

He can’t claim that having him as president is the best thing that ever happened to citizen’s pocket books. As someone who likes to claim he has control over things as big as the economy he has finally learned that any President does not make or break the economy.

Being President is a 24 hour, seven day a week job. You can’t go out and play golf while things are falling apart and not take flack for it. Vacations are also looked down upon during a crisis, no matter how badly you need a vacation.

If there is a pandemic you can’t have large rallies to try and get your fix of blind adoration to keep you going. You have to stay locked at home like everyone else in the country.

With as bad as things are I am waiting for 45 to say, “I’m not having any fun being President. I think I am going to stop. I am too rich to keep doing this job.” Any excuse to stop is all I am looking for. 45 deserves to have fun as long as he is not President.

I know that going to Mar-a-lago without Jeffery Epstein won’t be as fun. We haven’t heard from Rudy in a while, maybe he can rustle up the same kind of fun 45 likes. Princess 45 has not been about so she can’t be having any fun either. Maybe she can pull her best Veruca Salt impression and say, “Daddy, I’m tired of people being mean to me and my husband. Let’s leave this horrible Washington DC and go to Florida full time.”

Something has got to push him over the edge to drop out. The fear of losing the election should be enough to get him not to run. Then he can say he won 100% of the elections he ran for and that is the best record he will ever have.

Come on 45. You know you hate your job. You are old enough that you can retire and no one will say anything. Hey you are still young enough that you have time to get a couple of new wives. That is so much more fun for you than what you are doing now. You know you hate it. It’s fine to go, really.

My First Quarantine Nap

If last year you described to me the scenario we are living in now and asked me what I thought my days would be like I might have said, “I bet I’ll take up napping.” It couldn’t have been farther from the reality.

Today for the first time in twelve weeks I took a nap. It wasn’t any twenty minute cat nap, but a full on three hour zonk out and boy did it feel good. I had gotten up early to go to the Dentist this morning to get the rough part of a crown done. I had cracked a molar that had a very old silver filling it. It took a while to diagnose it, but once my dentist did we got right on fixing in.

So I had a large amount of novocaine and he went about scanning my teeth for a new crown to cover the old tooth, removing the old filling and making room for the crown. He made me a temporary crown and sent me on my way until next week when he will have my new, permanent crown to swap out. I left the office numb on the right side from my temple to my chin.

As I was feeling nothing I did two errands to drop off needlepoint to be finished and going to the fish market in Carrboro. By the time I got home I was still a numb as I was two hours before. I had a smoothie for lunch not feeling able to chew and not drool. Then the numbing agent wore off and my jaw started hurting from the morning activities. I took an aleve and lay down on my bed. Big mistake. I awoke at six PM.

I felt much better, except for the guilt of having slept the day away. I did get up and cook soft shell crabs for dinner so that I could appear not to be a total slug, but everyone in the house knew I was one.

I am certain that my sleeping schedule is going to be messed up now, but I am surprised that with so little that actually has to get done that I had not taken up napping before now.

I Like Live Performance

I don’t know how video bloggers do it. Today I had to video tape myself as the lector for church. I have no problem standing in front of 250 people reading some weird scripture. In fact the stranger the better. But having to video tape myself doing the same thing is horrible.

Since our church is run by sane, science loving, smart people we not not clamoring to get back into the sanctuary together. Online church has been quite successful. The pastors have been doing most of the heavy lifting, but now regular folks, who normally lector every Sunday, have been asked to do it on video.

The issues with video are, first you have to set it up. Since I am on this Sunday and it is Pentecost I filmed myself in my red dining room. If that is a reference that goes over your Christian education level don’t worry about it.

Our church volunteer Tim Vann, who puts all the videos together into one YouTube sent me instructions and said that using the back camera of my IPhone was best. The only problem with that is the button is on the front and the only way to know if I am even in the screen was to do it the less optimal way.

I had to erect a large structure on the dining room table to have the camera at a good height to film. Then I had to create a secondary structure to hold my iPad which acted as my teleprompter.

I had a lot to read and it does not work on video if you are looking down at paper the whole time, so I made my script into 30 point font so I could read it without glasses. The script was then six pages long so I had to scroll as I read, all the while trying to look more at the camera that was video taping than at the script on my iPad. It was not that easy.

Now let’s add some of the words I was reading like Cappadocia, Phrygia and Pamphylia. Not ones that roll off the tongue. I practiced without video taping like I normally would do for a live church service. Then I set the camera up and once I figured out I was in the middle of the screen I tried the Call to worship. That should have been the easy part since it was short and familiar. It took five times before I got it right.

Then I went to the lessons. I did the whole six minutes in one shot. I think I mispronounced a word or two, but I was not going to reshoot it because I figured I would always mispronounce something. Watching it back was horrific. I now understand why some actors like to do stage work and not film. At least with stage you have feed back from an audience and anything you do wrong is not immortalized. I can tell you I will never become a video blogger.

Happy Birthday Mask

There is only one thing to get a friend who is celebrating a birthday, a new mask that matches her wardrobe. Since tomorrow is Christy Barnes’ Birthday that is exactly what I did. We had a little social distancing lunch outdoors on the terrace today, which was a gift to me. It was nice to cook for entertaining, even if it was just for a couple. I miss throwing parties.

Time with friends is more precious after twelve weeks staying apart. When this social distancing started I never thought that May birthdays would not get to be celebrated in our normal ladies who lunch outings. Now I don’t envision going out to eat lunch for the rest of the year.

I am basically writing 2020 off as the year of learning to embrace the idea of becoming an introvert. As impossible as that seems I think it might be easier than what it is going to be like for all the real introverts when we are allowed to gather again. Perhaps they might claim the need to social distance forever.

Besides missing seeing local friends I am also missing travel. Usually at this point in the year I would be making plans to get in the car and visit people all around the country. Although I don’t have to live by a child’s school schedule I still consider “summer vacation” the best time of the year. I use summer as the excuse why I can’t go to meetings or do anything productive. Now I just pine for a good meeting.

In the meantime we have to celebrate the best way we can. So if you know Christy wish her a happy birthday tomorrow. I hope she only has need of that new mask for a short period of time. I really don’t want to be making Christmas masks this year.

Adding To Our Family

When you are staying home all the time you really notice when even the littlest thing changes. If a sprout of clover comes up between the cracks in the front porch I pull it before a shamrock has a chance. I see dead limbs on trees that I want to cut out where I usually wouldn’t have seen them before.

The big news at our house is soon there might be five new mouths to feed. A pair of parents have built a tiny nest in the space behind the top of our porch light and our wall. It is the very safest place to lay five tiny blue eggs. We have a big hawk who lives in the tallest pine behind our deck. Since the tiny nest is covered by the porch roof, no predatory eyes can see it while flying over. Since it is six feet off the ground so slithering snake will climb straight up the brick wall to steal the precious eggs.

The only problem with turning our front porch into a maternity ward is that the parents fly away every time we open the front door. That flying away is what alerted us to the nest in the first place. It is too high for any of us to see in, but Russ and Carter are tall enough to hold the phone up to shoot a photo.

The first time we did it two days ago we saw just a group of eggs, but couldn’t tell the number. Today Russ got this shot clearly showing the five of them. We are guessing sparrows, but are not 100% sure since we haven’t gotten a good look at the parents. We are trying to not use that door much so they can stay and keep those babies warm, but we will be checking at least once a day to see when they hatch.

Waiting for baby birds is so much more exciting than looking for weeds growing out of cracks. I will keep you posted as to the increase in our family size. Please no gifts, we have plenty of worms.

No Hugs, No Kisses

It has been so many months since I have seen either of my parents. They have been doing a good job of staying at the farm. Today we took a socially distancing trip up to the farm to get my eyes on them. My mother also wanted to receive the quilt I made for her and have had sitting here for over a month.

I am happy to report they are both healthy. It does a heart good to get to spend a little time with their only Grandchild, but no hugs, nor kisses.

My Dad made a yummy lunch of poached salmon we enjoyed together. Carter went swimming with her grandmother and Russ, Shay and I enjoyed the sunshine.

My mother loved her quilt so we completed the mission of delivery with positive results. It was a safe, but needed visit. Staying away is hard, but necessary.

Annus Horribilis

The thing about sheltering in place is I have only paid attention to what is going on right around me. At first I watched the local and national news, then that got too depressing and I only read a few online news stories. I basically stopped listening to news because it was bad and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Not knowing bad news somehow made me feel like it wasn’t that close to me. Then my mother called yesterday to tell me my Uncle’s house burned down. He is fine along with his son, daughter-in-law and six month old baby who live with him, but the house and everything they owned are gone. Since they live in a rural part of Pennsylvania it took fire engines 30 minutes to get to them. It was too late.

The thing about this Pandemic is that it is so horrible you forget about regular horrible stuff that still happens. My poor Uncle just lost his wife, my mother’s sister, last summer and now his house. As Queen Elizabeth put it the year Windsor burned, “This is an annus horribilis”

We are all having a horrible year, but some people are having it worse than others and it makes me feel helpless. So please pray for my Uncle and Cousins. It isn’t going to bring back their house and give them a place to live, but they need some miracle.

Since I had already given up the news, now I am also going to have to stop answering the phone and reading email to avoid bad news.

Plant Some Sage Tomorrow

At last a beautiful sunny day. We got over four inches of rain the four previous days. I was worried my garden might float away, but it survived. This morning I got up and weeded and planted the new yellow squash, cantaloupe and zucchini plants I purchased on a Tuesday. I also transplanted four germaniums into bigger pots and out them on our side terrace.

As I was feeling very happy with my terrace I decided to do the dirtiest job of cleaning the lip of the table under the glass top. I am not going to describe it to you, but trust me it is not a fun job. After doing that and cleaning the glass top Russ and I enjoyed our dinner there tonight.

It was perfect with no humidity and no bugs which I found amazing after so much rain.

If you haven’t planted anything in your garden or pots this year I am going to suggest starting a sage plant. Sage is a perennial so once you get it started you will have it for years to come. It is an easy plant to grow and there is nothing like fresh sage.

Tonight I made a butternut squash risotto and the star of it was the fried sage leaves. The risotto was an oven method which is so much easier than regular stove top risotto. The butternut squash cooked in the oven at the same time as the risotto and is added after you finish cooking the rice for five minutes on the stove top where you add the wine and the last bit of stock and the Parmesan cheese.

To fry sage leave just put a touch of oil in a small fry pan and get it very hot. I cut the sage leaves with a scissor right into the hot oil and let it cook until they are crispy in less than a minute. Drain it on paper towel and sprinkle in into your risotto.

Once you have had fried fresh sage you are going to want it all the time. Try it on your soft scrambled eggs in the morning or on a little crostini of Pâté. Hurry, go plant one and let me know ho would use it.

Ego Will Kill

I am more and more amazed by Church leaders who are fighting their Governors to allow them to open up their places of worship to hold in person services. Thankfully our church is led by smart pastors who understand that gathering as a group puts people in danger, especially if we are singing.

A friend of mine in California posted something about 1,200 churches out there suing to get to have services. Then it struck me, it is not about people needing to get into a church building to be together to hear the word. We can all do that over the Internet. It is about ego of those pastors who need to preach to live people.

Well preaching to them live might be one of the last things they do. It is the most selfish thing to offer them a chance to come to church. Most people are sick of being home alone and would like nothing more than to go to see their church friends. They probably think that if their pastor says it is all right, then it is. But your pastor is not a Doctor and he may preach the word of God, but he might not be listening to it.

God is not saying you have to go to church or temple to worship. God made smart Doctors. You should listen to them first. You are not protected from catching a virus just because you are praying in church and you believe in some higher power. Stay home and pray.

If you do go to church and you get sick and die when you get to St. Peter and ask him, “How could you let this happen to me?” I bet he is going to say, “You took medical advice from a pastor. I gave you Dr. Fauci, don’t blame me if you didn’t listen to the expert I provide.”

Happy Birthday Shay Shay

It seems like Our sweet puppy Shay Shay has always been part of our family, but in actuality it has just been nine years. But how could our sweet baby be nine years old? I call her our puppy, but in dog years she is clearly middle aged, something I am unwilling to accept.

Sadly is it has been a terribly cold and rainy day so she did not get to strut her stuff out on a neighborhood walk with a birthday hat on. I am sure she is thrilled not to have to wear a hat, but misses seeing her friends.

Shay did make an appearance on one of Carter’s Zoom work meetings, but she missed her regular church Ways and Means Zoom meeting. Oh, to be in such demand.

Outside of visiting Carter’s meeting she spent her birthday supervising Russ at working her bunny room office, a day like the last sixty for her.

So happy birthday to our best dog ever. Thanks for bringing a smile to all our faces everyday for the last nine years. We hope we have at least another nine years with your sweet face.